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Southwest B.C. delivered record housing starts in 2023, says report

Detached home starts decline as condo, townhome starts boom in 2023
Construction underway at the Oakridge redevelopment in Vancouver.

The West Coast housing market saw a significant boost in construction activity last year, according to a new report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC).

The annual BC Check-Up: Invest report found that construction began on 35,553 housing units in southwest B.C. during the year, a 20.9 per cent jump compared with 2022. This marks the highest number of housing starts ever recorded in the region.

“Our members living in the Lower Mainland have consistently reported that housing prices are the biggest challenge facing B.C. businesses,” said Lori Mathison, president and CEO of CPABC, said in an April 18 statement.

The report highlights a shift towards high-density developments, with a 30.4 per cent increase in attached unit starts (condos, townhouses) in 2023. Metro Vancouver accounted for nearly all of the 31,259 starts.

Detached home starts tallied in at 4,294 – a 21.2 per cent annual decline, possibly reflecting rising interest rates and tighter economic conditions.

“The drop in detached starts in southwest B.C. was largely in line with the national trend,” said Mathison. “Overall, Vancouver saw the biggest increase in new housing construction among major markets across the country.”

The report also looked at major projects (capital cost exceeding $20 million) in the region. The inventory value of these projects reached $113.4 billion in Q3 2023, an 8.1 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2022. Over half of this value is tied to projects still in the proposal stage.

Construction activity for major projects also saw a positive trend, with nearly $50.5 billion worth of projects underway in Q3 2023, a 9.9 per cent increase year-over-year. Between July and September 2023, construction began on 22 major projects with a total cost of $4.2 billion. The largest ongoing project is the Lougheed Town Centre redevelopment, valued at an estimated $7.0 billion.

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